Image Quality Tests
Note that ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 3 was used for playback, rather than the included Cyberlink software. This was in order to bit-stream the high definition DTS-HD MA and Dolby True-HD audio to the AV receiver. I did also test using Cyberlink and can confirm that this only worked on all Blu Rays used with the latest version of Cyberlink PowerDVD version 9.
DVD Viewing Results
DVD viewing was a decent experience with the Asus SBC-04DIS-U. The drive easily kept up the playback speeds needed for DVD. I also want to note that the drive span up all the test DVD's very quietly and I could barely hear it whilst in operation. This is in contrast to the Blu Ray playback.
Quality was good using both the Nvidia and the TV's own scaling. Images were solid and identical to that on the internal LiteOn SATA drive in the test PC.
Blu Ray Viewing results
The real test came when I loaded up a Blu Ray.
Grabbing Monsters Inc first I waited for the disc to load. With my fairly powerful desktop PC, I didn't have to wait long and the SBC-04DIS-U span up the disc. Monsters Inc is a fantastic disc to watch on Blu Ray and using the Asus SBC-04DIS-U Slim External Blu Ray Reader was no different. Each hair on Sulley's head was perfectly clear as it should be and The Abominable Snowman, Mike Wazowski, Boo, Waternoose and the rest of the scary crew were all rendered perfectly.
Moving on to my better half's copy of Twilight led me to some more in-depth analysis of the performance of the drive. At points where the director adds grainy effects on the movie I noticed a very (very) slight drop in quality compared to a stand-alone player. Spinning up Quantum of Solace showed the same slight added grainy-ness to the picture. I found it difficult to decide if this was the drive itself or the processing from the graphics card, especially as DVD performance was identical to the internal DVD player.
Sound-wise there was nothing you could quibble about with the Asus player. It delivered a full high definition bit-stream direct from the disc with no issues at all.